The Eight Dimensions of Wellness: Social
Social wellness is often the forgotten component when we think about the areas we want to improve to live a fuller, healthier life. Many of us believe we don’t need to improve our social wellness because we have friends and activities we do with others. But, it’s important to examine the quality of our social interactions and activities. We can have many friends and participate in activities, but still, lack social wellness because the quality of those friends and activities is not a good fit for our lives. In this article, we’ll examine what social wellness is and how to improve this dimension of our lives.
What is social wellness?
Social wellness is our ability to connect with other people and establish and maintain positive relationships with those people.
How do I know if I’m succeeding at social wellness?
It’s important to examine your relationships and activities to determine whether they’re bringing harmony to your life, or if they’re bringing negativity and strife. Some questions to ask yourself:
- How much time do I spend with my family and friends? Are many of your interactions with others superficial? Do you allow time in your schedule for meaningful interactions with others? If not, consider planning time that is not rushed with the people you enjoy.
- Do I enjoy the people I spend time with? Some degree of strife with others is to be expected in life. However, if you find the people in your life are emotionally draining after spending time with them, or you feel obligated to do so rather than a sincere desire to be with them, it’s time to think about whether they need to be in your life. One of the difficulties with examining our relationships is realizing some long-standing connections may not fit our lives anymore. Even if you’ve known someone since pre-school, it’s OK to let go if you’ve grown apart and you find yourself only spending time with that person simply because of the longevity of your relationship or shared history. Not everyone is meant to walk the entire journey with us in our lives.
- Do I enjoy the activities I’m spending my time on? Sometimes we commit to activities because we think we should be more active or we should enjoy something. But, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings about the things you’re engaging in. For example, it may have worked for you at one point in your life to be the PTA president, but now it feels like an exhausting obligation. Or perhaps you’re the person whose always been the den mother or the soccer coach, but you find more and more that you find little joy in those things now. Look at what you’re doing and decide if it’s working for who you are as a person now versus who you were when you started. Sometimes we’re afraid to let go of things because we believe we need to continue or else there’s no one who will do it, or any number of excuses we make so we don’t need to have the difficult conversations about moving on. However, if something is no longer fun and has turned into a dreaded chore, it could damage your social wellness if you continue in it as will your emotional well-being.
- When is the last time I tried something new? If you’ve always hung around with the same people, doing the same things, it’s time to take a new approach! Attend a cultural festival in your town, take a class on something new and different you’d like to learn about, or make time to do things you enjoy that just haven’t been a priority. You’ll find yourself more energized and able to enjoy your life if you inject new and exciting things into your social sphere.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, know that it’s OK to make your social interactions a priority. When we’re constantly meeting obligations and spending time with people we no longer really connect with or enjoy, we’re not allowing space for the positive energy that comes when we shake things up and allow ourselves to have fun again. Allow yourself to enjoy your interactions and your life! You’ll feel better for it.